News / 28 November, 2009

City and Hackney NHS – not all is well

Council should look into failures, says local independent watchdog

Hackney Local Involvement Network is an independent health and social care watchdog made up of local people

Hackney Local Involvement Network is an independent health and social care watchdog made up of local people

City and Hackney Primary Care Trust (PCT) recently announced that it is meeting the Government’s minimum requirements for health care delivery, yet a recent report also reveals that it is failing in key areas.

This 2008/9 Annual Health Check report by the Care Quality Commission states that the Trust is meeting all core standards for providing health services to the people of Hackney and the City.

Jacqui Harvey, Interim Chief Executive said, “It is very pleasing that NHS City and Hackney’s efforts to provide a world class health service to the local population are being recognised.”

Responding to the report, the Chair of the Hackney’s Health Scrutiny Commission, Cllr Jonathan McShane said, “The Commission was pleased to be advised the Trust is declaring itself compliant against all the core standards.”

However, like a number of other Primary Care Trusts across the capital, it is failing in several areas:

•     Inpatient & outpatient waiting times

•     Access to primary care

•     Breast cancer screening

•     Four week smoking quitters

•     Category B calls meeting 19 minute standard (the Department of Health’s requirement is that a minimum of 95 per cent of all serious but not life-threatening calls should receive an emergency response at the scene of the incident within this time)

It also scored worse than the previous year (2007/8) on:

•    Inpatient & outpatient waiting times

•    Category B calls meeting 19 minute standard

•    Childhood obesity

•    Revascularisation waiting times

In a recent survey of trusts in England, patients rated  City and Hackney PCT as satisfactory in terms of their overall experience. However, the Care Quality Commission said that urgent and emergency care services in this area did not perform as well as those in many other areas in a number of key aspects.

This does not necessarily mean that urgent and emergency care in the PCT-area is unsafe. If there are concerns that a service is unsafe, powers of enforcement exist, for example, conducting an investigation.

Ida Scoullos, who chairs the Hackney Local Involvement Network (LINk), said she was particularly concerned by the CQC’s view of patient satisfaction.

The CQC stated that the proportion of patients who were not satisfied with their ability to book a suitable appointment with their GP was too high.

“It is clear that on the basis of patients’ responses NHS City and Hackney scored worse on GP waiting times than other trusts,” Ms Scoullos said.

“Local GPs do a great job, but the Local Involvement Network wants to work with NHS City and Hackney to ensure that access to GP services is improved,” she explained.

Jacqui Harvey explained that NHS City and Hackney recognise the importance of waiting times to the public. “We are continually improving access and maintaining one of the lowest waiting times in the country at The Homerton University Hospital,” she said.

“Some of the hospitals we commission have not met waiting time targets, however, the experience of our patients in local hospitals has continued to improve, a fact also reflected in our local MORI poll where more people than ever indicated their satisfaction with local services.” she said.

Action plans are now in place to address all of areas that need improving.

The PCT received a rating of ‘fair’ in the 08/09 assessment for quality of commissioning of services for its local population.

Quality of financial management, which looks at how effectively a trust manages its financial resources, was rated ‘good’ at City and Hackney PCT.

Jacqui Harvey said, “This is an improvement from last year’s ‘fair’ rating and reflects our continued efforts in improving how public finances are managed at NHS City and Hackney.”

Ida Scoullos has sensed a complacent reaction from NHS City and Hackney. “I am concerned that its rating for overall quality of services has dropped from ‘good’ to ‘fair’.  I hope that the local health scrutiny commission will look into this.”

The PCT asked the London Borough of Hackney and City of London Health Scrutiny Commissions to select a number of standards for in-depth scrutiny at their respective meetings back in April 2009.

Cllr Jonathan McShane said, “Scrutiny commissions agree their annual work programmes through annual public consultation between December and January, and welcome views from residents and interest groups about priorities for Hackney over the coming year.”

Local Involvement Networks were established under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

Run by local people and groups, the role of a LINk is to monitor, influence or change the way their local NHS and social care services are planned, developed, purchased and delivered.

/ 28 November, 2009


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